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On September 30, U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson ordered the University of Michigan to lift previous punishments imposed upon a student accused of sexual misconduct. Previously, the accused student was found to have violated the University’s sexual misconduct policy and was told to either withdraw from the University or be expelled.
According to court records, the accused student was found in violation of the sexual misconduct policy after having sex with an intoxicated freshman at a party hosted by his fraternity in January 2016. The woman who filed the sexual misconduct report was a freshman at the University during the time of the incident.
Though the Office for Institutional Equity decided after a four-month investigation there was not enough evidence to accuse the male student of having violated the sexual misconduct policy, the female student appealed the decision and an appellate review board reversed OIE’s decision. The accused student was then urged to withdraw from the University and was banished from entering the campus.
In October 2018, the University announced it would amend its sexual misconduct policy after the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September 2018 universities must give accused students or their attorney the opportunity to cross-examine the accuser. Since the changes were implemented, students and survivors of sexual misconduct have argued the policy leads to potential re-trauma.
When the accused student appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals after having the case dismissed by a federal district court, the judge ruled the University must give the accused student the opportunity for cross-examination. On Thursday, both parties met for a status and scheduling conference.
According to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, the University supports the judge’s recent ruling.
“The University considers this to be a favorable ruling from the court and we will continue to defend the University against the claims by the plaintiff,” Fitzgerald said.